My field of work, graphic design, is what you could call Client Services. I take care of the needs of clients. Dozens each month, actually. This volume of work means that I need to have very tight systems and procedures for everything that I do. Whatever your job or role, you have things you do every day, and other tasks that you perform often enough to consider them “standard”. I think it’s natural for most people to want to map out an official way of completing these things, but we are rarely drawn to innately simplify the processes we’ve already set up. We are creatures of comfort, so once we find a home, a habit or a process, we tend to stop innovation and adapting. We settle in.

The challenge is to never consider any of these systems, procedures or methods to be final. After each client project is finished, I do a quick “project autopsy”. Even for those that went very well. I ask a series of questions:

  • Was the project a success or failure for me?
  • What steps could have been eliminated?
  • What steps could have been refined?
  • What steps were missing and should be added in the future?

I’m not the perfect business owner. But maybe that’s my secret. Maybe the real key to doing great work is to never consider yourself complete or settled. I like to think that the perfect way of doing business — whether it’s freelancing, small business of corporate life — is to be constantly refining what it is I do.

Don’t settle in. Refine.